Analysis from NASA’s Genesis mission indicates our sun and its inner planets may have formed differently than previously believed.
Slight differences exist in the types of oxygen and nitrogen present on the sun and planets. Although the differences are slight, they could help determine how our solar system evolved.
“The implication is that we did not form out of the same solar nebula materials that created the sun — just how and why remains to be discovered,” said Kevin McKeegan, a Genesis co-investigator from the University of California, Los Angeles and the lead author of one of two science papers published recently.
For current updates, go to the GENESIS mission website when you’re teaching either of the NES lessons Chemical Elements: GENESIS — What Are We Made Of? (Grades 5-8) or Graph Analysis: GENESIS — Exploring Data (Grades 10-12).
Detectors on the Herschel Space Observatory’s large telescope have provided the first confirmation of oxygen molecules in space. The molecules were detected within the Orion Nebula.
Individual atoms of oxygen are common in space but not molecular oxygen. Astronomers searched for the elusive molecules for decades using balloons, as well as ground- and space-based telescopes. The Swedish Odin telescope spotted the molecule in 2007, but the sighting could not be confirmed.
This information may be used with the NASA Explorer Schools activity, Genesis: What Are We Made Of? The Sun, Earth and You.
Link to the NES Virtual Campus participant’s home page.
On Feb. 6, NASA’s twin STEREO probes moved into position on opposite sides of the sun, and they now are beaming back uninterrupted images of the entire star — front and back.
”For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full three-dimensional glory,” says Angelos Vourlidas, a member of the STEREO science team at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.
”This is a big moment in solar physics,” says Vourlidas. “STEREO has revealed the sun as it really is — a sphere of hot plasma and intricately woven magnetic fields.”
Read more about this story by logging into NEON, join the NASA Explorer Schools group, and find the “GENESIS: What Are We Made of? The Sun, Earth and You” forum. The complete write-up on this exciting new development is available in that forum.
This movie shows a spherical map of the Sun, formed from a combination of STEREO Ahead and Behind beacon images, along with an SDO/AIA image in between. The movie starts with the view of the Sun as seen from Earth, with the 0 degree meridian line in the middle. The map then rotates through 360 degrees to show the part of the Sun not visible from Earth. The black wedge shows the part of the Sun not yet visible to the STEREO spacecraft.
For more information about the STEREO spacecraft, visit the mission website.